Alexander Calder is a major figure in the world of modern art, and among those who could claim that title, he is the one who by far seems to have had the most fun. As a result, most everything he did will bring a smile to your heart. Above is a small standing mobile from around 1960, seen here.
He went to Paris in the 1920’s, and one of the projects he began there was a circus, a circus he could pack into a suitcase (or two or five, as it grew) and take from place to place. He not only made every piece, but he brought the circus to life for people at dinner parties and galleries.
The video is a shortened version of a 1955 film by Jean Painleve put together by the Whitney Museum in New York, where it often runs continuously. Above image is a 2009 installation at the Whitney of Calder’s Paris work, seen here
This is one of the circus suitcases in the Whitney Calder collection, see here.
And here is one of the performers, the Trumpeter, who now lives at the Whitney, here.
There is a longer film that can be seen here. It is well worth the time, so pop yourself some popcorn and settle in to see it when you have a chance.
Calder produced a fair amount of jewelry as a natural outgrowth of his sculpture in metal. Above from a show at the Metropolitan Museum in NY.
If you have seen a Calder in person, most likely it was one of his large metal works in a public place. Above is his Eagle in Seattle, part of the city’s terrific waterside sculpture park. Nice photo by a man known as Chimera posted here.
And this is Calder’s Flamingo in downtown Chicago, photo at this nice blog post
This black beauty is in Spoleto Italy where it spans a road . More here
One of the most extraordinary qualities of Calder was how he worked with complete originality and so successfully on both the monumental scale and on the scale of small toys.
Red fish wooden pull-toy seen here.
He made up this box of mini mobiles for a friend’s birthday. Which birthday? It might have been the 5th, the 25th, or the 75th–or anything in between. Seen here
Great dog, from here
Here he is at work and at play. producing something the world had never seen or even dreamed of.
The two above are from a show held at the Gagosian Gallery in Rome in 20o9, more here
Same show mounted in the New York Gagosian in 2010 NY, photo Rob McKeever
This is a long post for us at the R of L, but the man is, we think, worth the extra time and pixels. If ever a human being made joy visible in common materials like sheet metal and wire it was Alexander Calder, bless his heart. We could use another like him, but it is unlikely his kind will come along again anytime soon.